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What is a Garden Tub? The 2021 Garden Tub Guide

Growing increasingly in popularity, the garden tub is a large soaking tub that provides a level of relaxation unrivaled to many bathtubs on the market. But what precisely is it? How large of a bathroom do you need to accommodate one? How expensive can they be and perhaps, most importantly, is it the right bathtub for you? Whether you are renovating a new space or an existing bathroom, here are a few considerations to keep in mind should you want a garden tub.

What Is a garden tub?

A garden tub is a soaking tub, always freestanding, oval shaped and deep enough to submerge your entire body inside. Growing increasingly in popularity, this style of bathtub is a more luxurious option to the more standard bathtub choices on the market. With the increased space, you no longer have to fear of having your legs or arms exposed during bathing, which combined with the excellent heat retention of certain materials, make for a longer, more pleasurable soak. For size comparisons, soaking tubs are quite similar to things such as hot tubs and jacuzzis. For the benefits of comfort however, there are a few drawbacks to it as well, namely size and price.


History of the garden tub: Reason for the name and popularity in Europe

Garden tubs began use in the early 1700’s by the French elite and aristocracy. Back then, they were actually placed in or above the garden so the user could admire their landscape and scenery while they bathed, hence the name. Comprised of zinc, these bathtubs were quite lavish and adorned with many decorative flourishes. The drained water used for bathing was then routed back into the gardens to provide water for the plants. The English took this idea and began incorporating these bathtubs for home use, with the general idea of placing them near windows or vivid scenery.

Garden vs Standard tub comparison

To start with, a garden bathtub is much wider and deeper than a standard bathtub, due to it’s oval design, making it quite large, and thus, requiring a subsequent amount of space to accommodate it-something many homes cannot handle. In addition to it’s robust size, the overall wide design also limits much of an option to affix a shower on it like many bathtubs today. Finally, the price for a garden tub compared to a standard alcove or freestanding bathtub is usually much higher, with peaks of roughly anywhere from $3000-5000, this without the cost of installation. Of course, there are plastic garden tubs available for around $500-1,000, but these tend to be cheap, as the material does not retain heat very well and will be considerably less durable, causing you more money for replacements in the long run. Garden bathtubs make up for these negatives by having a deep enough water capacity to seat and submerge a person completely, making it much more effective in providing a deeper soak compared to a normal bathtub which on average, doesn’t have nearly a large water capacity for soaking. This proves useful for medicinal soaks or therapeutic relaxation as it provides a much more thoroughly relaxing environment compared to your normal bathtub.


Garden Tub materials

Garden tubs come in a wide variety of materials, but the primary ones of note are Acrylic, Enameled cast iron and Stone resin. Enameled cast iron is the most popular choice due to it’s excellent durability, easy to clean surface and stellar heat retention, though it carries the negative of being quite heavy, adding more stress to installation and floor weight when it is full. Cast iron is also not malleable or flexible, making it so the designs available are quite limited due to the material itself. Acrylic on the other hand, is quite flexible and comes in many different shapes and designs to suit your fancy. The drawback to this is that acrylic bathtubs do not have such excellent heat retention when compared to cast iron or stone resin. The material also isn’t as durable as cast iron or stone resin, meaning it will show heavier signs of wear over time. Stone resin enjoys the happy medium between these two, offering excellent heat retention, and also being flexible enough to shape into a myriad of designs and shapes for your bathroom needs.

How much does it cost for a garden tub – tub and installation

Due to its robust size, garden tubs end up being on the pricey end of the spectrum when discussing bathtubs. A typical or standard garden tub has a starting price of around $2,000, without installation costs factored in. This of course can easily shoot up to around $5,000+ based on the material used, making this bathtub quite out of reach for those on a budget. Installation is also a large factor in pricing as these bathtubs are quite large, adding to install difficulties, which a professional is advised, adding about $1,000-2,000 to your initial cost.

How big is a garden tub?

Your standard garden tub is roughly 42 inches wide, 60 inches long and 24 inches deep. (3.5 ft wide, 5 ft long, 2 ft deep)This of course is roughly the size of a standard oval garden tub. However, on the high end, they can get much, much larger with some bathtubs running as high as 70 inches wide, 70 inches long, with a water depth of 30 inches. (5.8ft wide, 5.8 ft long, 2.5 ft deep), which in size is actually quite similar to a jacuzzi, which is basically a garden tub with installed jets.


Do they come in any other shapes?

Garden bathtubs come in a variety of different shapes, though the core similarity in all of these shapes is that they are oval or rounded in some way. This of course comes from a more modern design that provides you with more water depth similar to a basin, allowing for full submergence while bathing. It also means that the bathtub is finished on all sides like a standard freestanding bathtub, giving you full access to all sides of the tub. This design however, while assisting you in achieving greater water depth, also means that a shower isn’t really viable unless you have enough room to accommodate both the tub and a larger enclosure, as the typical garden tub design does not flush neatly against the wall like traditional freestanding bathtubs do. However, instead of a shower, most garden tubs CAN be fitted with with water jets and pressured streams, adding more to create a jacuzzi effect.

Garden tubs are an excellent way to relax and unwind, giving you the comfort of a hot tub in your very own home. They are also very expensive, take up the majority of your bathroom and require about twice the amount of water that a normal bathtub will require. For those who are on a tighter budget, consider a normal freestanding bathtub instead.

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Katie L.
Katie L.
1 year ago

The definition of a garden style tub describes it as always being free standing yet the pictures included in this article show built in tubs. I’m just wondering why the contradiction?

5 months ago
Reply to  Katie L.

Garden bathtubs can be both built in and freestanding. We’ve recently launched our garden bathtub category where you can view our selection of garden tubs.

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